Although devices such as the Droid RAZR MAXX, the Galaxy Nexus and the HTC One X are obviously the cream of the Android crop, many Android fans don’t want to spend top dollar on a high-end smartphone that will become obsolete in little more than a year. Since cheap Android smartphones should be actively avoided (for reasons I’ve detailed in this previous article here), the only remaining alternative is to buy an excellent mid-range Android smartphone.
Given the wide variety of Android smartphones that fall under the mid-range category, many potential buyers might stray away from the smart choices out there. This article is intended to help you pick one of the best mid-level Android smartphones. As this article is intended to remain valid for the entire year of 2012, the bar will be set in relation to top-end smartphones such as the HTC One X, as well as in relation to the rumors, leaks and official announcements regarding flaghsip devices of 2012 from manufacturers such as Motorola, Samsung and LG. Basically, a mid range Android smartphone for 2012 is any device that will not be released as a flagship smartphone but is noticeably better than all entry-level alternatives. Speaking of which, entry level alternatives at the 2012 level will have to match or exceed the specs and features of mid-range smartphones released in 2011.
The first smartphone on our list, the HTC One S, can be considered a mid-range smartphone only when compared against the HTC One X (and even then the One S holds a few advantages over the One X). There are only a couple of factors that make the One S a mid-range smartphone: its less than top-class display and a smaller price than that of the HTC One X. The HTC One S – the slimmest smartphone ever made by HTC – is the most expensive device on this list, but its specs and design more than justify its price.
Note: The HTC One V did not make it into our list of the mid-range smartphones for 2012 because it’s more of an entry-level smartphone.
Back at CES 2012, Huawei announced the world’s slimmest smartphone, the Ascend P1 S, measuring a thickness of only 6.8mm and packing top-end specs. Despite the fact that no one saw this coming from Huawei, the most interesting thing (given the topic of this article) is that the P1 S also has a bigger and thicker brother called the Ascend P1. Featuring the same impressive specs as its slimmer brother, it’s obvious that the Ascend P1 will be cheaper than the P1 S, already expected to be priced below smartphones with similar specs (that’s sort of Huawei’s business model). Add the fact that the P1 is also quite slim compared to other smartphones (just 7.7mm thick) and we might be looking at the best mid-range Android smartphone for the year of 2012.
Despite the fact that the LG Lucid is a recent addition to Verizon’s LTE line-up, you can still get it for only $80 on a 2 year contract with Big Red. Design-wise, the Lucid is slightly different than LG’s Optimus line, something many find to be a good thing. Its specs don’t exactly shine in any conceivable way, but they don’t disappoint either. Simply put, The LG Lucid is considered to be the best LTE-enabled mid-range Android smartphone currently available. Unfortunately for non-US residents, the LG Lucid is available only in the land of promise.
If you’re looking for an LTE enabled mid-range Android smartphone on AT&T, the HTC Vivid is probably the only choice you can make. Scheduled to be receiving its Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update soon, the Vivid features a large 4.5 inch S-LCD display as well as one of the best cameras out there. Currently priced at $99 with a 2 year contract on AT&T, look for the Vivid’s price to become even more attractive as months pass and newer models get released. Once its price gets slashed to $50 or maybe even free on a new contract, the HTC Vivid instantly becomes a smart choice.
Although Sony is currently struggling in the top-end smartphone race, it seems like the next revamp of the Xperia line (now without the attached Ericsson branding) will mark the release of one of the most appealing mid-range Android smartphones out there, the Sony Xperia P. Featuring a unique (albeit slightly bulky) design, the Xperia P was recently spotted passing through the FCC, indicating what is looking to be an imminent worldwide release. If the price announced for the unlocked UK version of the Xperia P is any indication (£330.00 inc. VAT), we might be looking at the smartphone with one of the best performance-for-buck ratios out there.
Back at MWC 2012, Samsung officially announced the Galaxy Ace 2. While it is not exactly the most powerful Android smartphone out there, it still represents a a decent follow-up to the very successful Galaxy Ace. The design is simplistic, although early reports speak of a pretty decent overall build quality. Although you might find that spec-wise, the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 is the least impressive smartphone on this list, chances are it will also be among the cheapest. In other words, a true successor to the original Galaxy Ace.
As NVIDIA puts it, “a premium mobile computing experience is coming to the mainstream smartphone market”. Although the pricing is not yet official, if the rumors that claim the ZTE Mimosa X will be priced around $200 off-contract turn out to be real, you should take a closer look at the image above as you’re clearly looking at the smartphone with the best bang for buck ratio. If it were to be released last year around this period, the ZTE Mimosa X would have been a tough competitor for all top-end smartphones, as you can clearly note from the specs below.
So folks, there you have it. The baseline price for extremely powerful devices packing incredible technology is getting lower, year after year. All of the devices above represent the best of breed, in terms of both build quality, hardware specs, and price points. Any favorites among the list? What do you think is the best mid-range Android phone out there We will keep this article actively updated as the situation changes, so let us know what you think!